Arsenal Fans Should Not Preach What They Practice
Twelve months on from their last meeting at the Emirates Stadium in 2014, Arsenal and Chelsea once again played out a 0-0 draw on Sunday afternoon.
Post-match, there has been much criticism of Chelsea's defensive approach to the game. The on-looking Arsenal faithful in particular, were the source of great frustration, with chants of 'Boring, Boring, Chelsea' ringing around Ashburton Grove before the final whistle blew.
The Blues celebrated the point as if they had garnered the full three. Such was the vitriol ignited by the reactions of John Terry et al, certain pockets of the media have come out to condemn Chelsea's style. All areas on the press have had their say.
They and to a greater extent the Arsenal fanbase all aired their grievances over the scoreless stalemate on Sunday. However, some of The Gunners' rather directionless - at times - fans are all too quick to jump on this particular bandwagon and would do well to remember their team's past.
Chelsea could point to having little alternative but to play as they did. Both Diego Costa and Loic Remy were absent and with Didier Drogba's contribution of late as a 37-year-old forward with having more to do defensively than offensively, Jose Mourinho had little option but to roll out a 4-3-3, which may as well have been a 4-6-0, more akin to West Ham.
Yes, Mourinho's men had sat back and allowed their opponents to have the ball, but they had earnt their position and therefore their right by sitting pretty at the summit of the Premier League, with a sizeable lead to boot.
The reality was Chelsea didn't need to pick up three points. If they had, we may be talking about a different result. But it was what is was. A point was a superb result for The Blues, against an Arsenal side who had won eight league games on the bounce.
Critiquing an essentially lifeless nil-nil draw in which the visitors had throttled the midfield, is all very well but - especially - versus Arsenal, if we look at their past, there is not a vast difference to how they got their business done themselves.
Let's not forget, Arsenal were the ultimate 1-0 team under George Graham, coining the now infamous phrase forever associated with The Gunners, albeit which now looks decidedly redundant. Under the Scot, Arsenal scored and then squeezed the life out of games with a defence of Adams, Dixon, Bould and Winterburn. Is that so different to a Terry, Ivanovic, Cahill and Azpilicueta back line?
Even in Arsenal's greatest era of the Invicibles during the 2003/4 season, Arsene Wenger's side did score for fun on many occasions, but when trying to win the league title, get over the line and hold onto their unbeaten record that season, The Gunners ground out four draws in their last seven outings. They did what they needed to do but the fact is easily forgotten.
What also needs to remembered, merely playing devil's advocate, is that since the injury concerns to Diego Costa have arisen, Chelsea have been forced to change their style from their relative swashbuckling brand that we saw up until say, November, when most agreed Mourinho already had another league title with his beloved Chelsea in the bag.
Sunday saw an outcry of consternation in North London from frustrated Gooners who still clung onto hope of a late title surge. The resulting anger from certain corners has been mildly embarassing - in some cases from Arsenal fans. However when we look at the bigger picture it is pure hypocrisy. This writer in particular (an Arsenal fan) has no issue with the way Chelsea ground out a result this past weekend. We have done the same in the past and any fan pointing the finger should perhaps take a hard look at themselves. Chelsea have simply merited their choice of performance. As did Arsenal in their heyday.
Any fan unhappy with Mourinho and his style may want to reserve judgement. Their criticisms may be closer to home than they realise.